Black Petals Issue #93 Autumn, 2020

Basement Beldam
BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Justin Alcala: A Horse for Us All-Fiction
Matthew Penwell: Bless Be Him-Fiction
Shiloh Simmons: Coffin Birth-Fiction
John Cox: Don't Teach Cats Latin-Fiction
Ken Hueler: I, Said the Fish-Fiction
R. A. Busby: Not the Man I Married-Fiction
Jude Clee: Notes from a Bathroom Stall-Fiction
M. W. Moriearty: Scarecrows-Fiction
Robert Masterson: Sharper Than She Ever Imagined-Fiction
Michael Steven: The Mirror-Fiction
Kevin Hawthorne: The Song-Fiction
Marlin Bressi: The Man on the Box-Fiction
Terry Riccardi: Winter Hunt-Fiction
Stephen J. Tillman: Angry Tammy-Flash Fiction
Andreas Hort: Pay the Price!-Flash Fiction
Sam Clover: Piety and Parm-Flash Fiction
Deisy Toussaint: Parasite in the Shadows-Flash Fiction
Outnumbered-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Mickey Sloan: Basement Beldam-Poetry
Daniel G. Snethen: Grandmother Screamed-Poetry
Daniel G. Snethen: Pumpkin Tanka-Poetry
Daniel G. Snethen: Yellow Death-Haiku
Theresa C. Gaynord: The JuJu Man-Poetry
Theresa C. Gaynord: The Widow Paris-Poetry
Theresa C. Gaynord: Funeral at the Louisiana Bayou-Poetry
Theresa C. Gaynord: The Old Hag-Poetry
Loris John Fazio: Halloween Prayer-Poetry
Marilyn Lou Berry: My Darling, My Sustenance-Poetry
Chris Collins: Nature-Poetry

Basement Beldam


Mikey Sloan

My sister and I have long known

That a beldam lurks within the cellar

We hear her call our names each night

She peers through the curtains with white, dead eyes

And weeps and cries while we both sleep


Some say she’s a hag or demon, witch or crone

A thing from some old era done and gone

A rusty stain from a forgotten age

That she hungers for youth

Steals children’s souls

And locks their wisps in an old canary cage


But for now, she lingers in the cool dark, waiting for little ones to stumble upon her


Last night the iron cellar door collapsed

The metal melted in on itself

 “Just kids, pulling pranks,” my father said

“Will you tell your sister?” he asked


We tried to forget her, to ignore our dread

Huddled under sheets, tucked tight in our beds

But that night we saw her. She slunk from the cellar

She reared her maggoty head and smiled


It’s an omen, a warning

Next morning as my younger sister, Molly

Dawdled down in the dust

She tripped and dropped her little dolly through the cellar’s gaping hole

She bawled. She begged me, “Bring my doll!”

So I moped to the cellar and stared into the void


A patch of sunlight shone the doll at the bottom

Past dank and rotten cellar steps 

I started to descend, made it halfway down

When I heard a growl. Or a grunt perhaps?


Don’t fret, Margaret, it’s a coon or a cat, or little pranksters laying traps

I descended yet farther when I heard three taps in the dark beyond the cellar steps


So I stopped and stared up to my little sister

Who smiled and giggled and stepped down toward me

“Wait right there!” I said

“But I miss her, Marge”

So I barged on faster to the beldam’s lair

Just there! There it was! The filthy doll

Strewn inches past the bottom stair


Can I do it? Maybe. I’ll make a mad grab


But wait! I forgot

The last stair creaks, and as soon as I step off it

A woman speaks

Her breath, it reeks with the hot stink of death

So I froze in place and held my nose


“Oh, hello,” she says, “my dear, my pearl,

So long since I’ve seen such a sweet little girl

Come down to my cellar dwelling

It’s wrong, my dear, to live so long

In the cold cellar dark beneath your home”


Oh God. She’s real. She’s really here

Her raspy breathing’s drawing near

You’ve no choice, Margaret. Up the stairs. Get out!

But I crouched and inched toward the doll


Just then a long yellow nail, a claw

Pierced the toy through the chest

Dragged it off in the dark


“I’m sorry,” she said, “did you lose your little dolly?

But she’s been such a comfort to me down here

Do you want it? Oh dear! Please, take it”

I said nothing

Simply stood and stared and waited


“Dear girl, don’t fear

Come close, approacher. Closer”

I stood and gaped toward the beldam’s voice

I didn’t dare oppose her

I held out my hand and awaited the doll


But instead, the ugly hag slunk near

“How queer,” she said, “for a thing so dear, to wander into my web”

Then she stepped forward into the light


Her face was mangled, her back hunched, skin marred

And in two scarred and bony hands a small cage jangled


“Come nearer, dear. My little bird.

Hand to God, I give my word,

Not to harm one hair on your sweet little head”

“Please, don’t,” I said, “just give me that doll. I’ll be out of your cellar for good”  


“Oh no.” She smiled. “Wouldn’t dream of it

You’re my sweet little guest. A peach. A pest

I look so forward to get to knowing –”


“Well, sorry,” I said, “I’ll just be going”

And I stepped back onto the creaky stair


But she reached, she snatched, dug her claws in my back

And flung me onto the cellar stones

She sighed and grinned and breathed in deep

And from down in my lungs, my cold soul seeped


Then she opened up the rusty cage

And shut me in with a slam

She cackled through the iron bars,


“I am the beldam!”

Mikey Sloan is a biochemical engineer currently working as a Lab Analyst in Colorado, but he has always had a secret passion for creative writing. He has written a large number of poems and short stories, most of them centered on horror or fantasy elements. This poem, “Basement Beldam,” is no exception. He is excited to share his first published piece with the world and hopes you will be able to read more of his work in the future.

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